Thursday, November 22, 2012

Car crash

A little after midnight last night, the night before Thanksgiving, I almost hit someone with my car on the freeway. He had staggered into the lane, and I had to swerve a little to miss him, my tires crunching through the debris from his wrecked SUV. His was the only car stopped, so I pulled over to help. I ran back along the shoulder to him, shouting “Do you need help?” over the hiss of freeway traffic.

I reached him, and he put his hands on my upper arms. “Yes,” he said, his eyes digging into mine, “yes, I need help.”

I pulled him as far as possible from the traffic singing by just feet away, and pulled out my cell phone. “I'm going to call 911,” I shouted.

“No,” he said, “I need you to help without calling 911. Can you call someone else?” He was drunk.

His car was facing the wrong way, its headlights dark. I told him there was nobody I could call.

Almost as soon as I arrived, I saw police lights flashing down the other side of the freeway. I told him I saw them, that they were on their way; he wanted me to find something to break his windshield. He thought that would help somehow. I don't know why. I watched the lights exit the freeway and cross the overpass to the entrance on our side. I considered putting him in my car and driving away – nobody was hurt, there was no property damage besides his own vehicle, he was the only one involved. It was too late. The police arrived.

The whole front of a police car is dazzling lights pointed at you. I felt like I was on stage, and didn't know my lines. I felt like they were going to come out of those lights with their guns drawn, pointed at us.

I told the police that I wasn't involved; I had just stopped to help. They took down my information and told me when it was safe to run around the wrecked SUV and jog back to my car.

When the police had pulled up, he had slumped back against his twisted grille and started crying.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Alexander. Your writing has impact. It's not that easy to draw someone in & make them think with such a short piece. As easy as it would seem on the surface of it to make a judgment in the situation, it's not, really. Would rescuing him this time change his life and behavior, or would he just be chuckling about it at the bar with his friends the next night? Bravo.

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